The idea of the lift was conceived when it was proposed to Peter Van Emmerik by his son Andrew, that in view of the ageing population and the absence of a lift suitable for residential use, a market for this product would emerge and that it would provide Peter with a challenging retirement project at age 67.
The options were evaluated and it was concluded that to make the lift economic and blend in with the home decor as a retro fit was to make it free standing by eliminating the enclosures and enclosure doors.
It was discovered that the Australian Standards Commission had also foreseen the emerging need and had composed and issued a Standard AS 1735 part 15 to meet this need. The “thru lift” concept was birthed at this very time.
The next challenge was to have the entire lift motor, wire rope system, control boards etc. within the 300 mm high space between the cabin ceiling and the home ceiling to avoid penetrating the upper floor ceiling into the roof space.
Peter set out drafting the lift on a drafting board he had purchased at a Hydro fire sale! The prototype unit was then produced on the disused eight ball table behind the house. Jim Hursey, his electrical engineer University buddy would discuss electrical circuitry over morning tea on the veranda.
One aspect of the design that the motor travelled with the unit circumvented the need for the sensitive trailing control cable. Andrew organised to have the lift certified with both S.E.M.F and Work Place Standards Tasmania who fully inspected the unit and awarded it a design compliant certificate; still current and accepted by the relevant authorities in other states.
A paraplegic friend had a ride in the lift and commented, “A lift without doors, that is what we always dreamt of.”
It was decided to apply for a Patent. After 21 challenges this was accepted and no previous designer had managed to have all the equipment for driving, control and safety mechanisms together in the lift capsule. It is to be noted that only 2 – 4% of Patent applications are commercialised.
To defray the cost of prototyping it was decided to go commercial and sell production prototypes, assuring our customers of free service and the commitment to restore their home if the lift proved unsatisfactory! One of our first sales was to a client who uses the lift approximately 20 times per day. The lift efficiently and faultlessly performed this service over a period of 12 years.
Manufacturing proved a problem as factories are not geared up for small numbers so after Peter’s open heart surgery, Homelift Elevators in Sydney became the manufacturer and were given a licence to market in other Australian states. This agreement fell apart when the company collapsed. The fact that we hold the Patent proves the Residential Lift Company Pty. Ltd. are the original designers, manufacturers and marketers of the thru lift product.
Other manufacturers were found in Tasmania and it is with the support of these companies that we are where we are today. Independent Contractor Distributors have also been a boon to the Company to sell and install the product Australia wide.